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11 Neue Bagatellen

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Valery Afanassiev

11 Neue Bagatellen Op. 119
6 Bagatellen Op. 126


11 Neue Bagatellen Op. 119

1. I – Allegretto
2. II – Andante con moto (1:22)
3. III – a l’Allemande (1:29)
4. IV – Andante cantabile (2:24)
5. V – Risoluto (1:15)
6. VI – Andante (2:12)
7. VII – Allegro ma non troppo (1:13)
8. VIII – Moderato cantibile (2:07)
9. IX – Vivace moderato (Vivace assai ed un poco sentimentale) (1:12)
10. X – Allegramente (:17)
11. XI – Andante ma non troppo (2:23)


6 Bagatellen Op. 126

1. I – Andante con moto
2. II – Allegro (3:27)
3. III – Andante (3:50)
4. IV – Presto (3:57)
5. V – Quasi allegretto (2:29)
6. VI – Presto (5:59)

Valery Afanassiev, Piano (Steinway)




Beethoven's Bagatelles for the piano include sets such as the seven pieces of Op. 33, the eleven pieces of Op. 119, and the six pieces of Op. 126, and separate pieces such as those classified under the numbers WoO 52, 56, and 59. This last piece, WoO 59, is popularly known as "Fur Elise". The term "Bagatelle" has in fact no relation with any specific musical form, and the individual pieces are written completely free of any restrictions on the formal level. They are fundamentally similar in this respect to piano pieces with titles such Rondo, Fantasy, Andante, or Allegro. In his manuscript score of Op. 33, Beethoven has written in French the title "Des Bagatelles", but the German term "Kleinigkeiten" is to be seen in the manuscript scores of Op. 119 and Op. 126. "Kleinigkeiten" literally means "little things" or "light things", and is a term which indicates the character of the music over which it stands. __________________________________________________________

Neue Bagatellen, Op. 119

This collection of pieces came into existence basically in two groups. The first group, consisting of Bagatelles I to VI, was completed by November 1822 and published the following year, whereas Bagatelles VII to XI were composed earlier in 1820 and published in the early spring of 1821. These latter five pieces were composed on commission for inclusion as pieces 28 to 32 in Friedrich Starke's "Wiener Piano-Forte Schule" ("Viennese Pianoforte Tutor"). Although the first six pieces are said to have been composed in 1822, there are sketches for the second and fourth pieces dating from around 1794, and a sketch for the fifth piece had already been produced in 1802.

Bagatelle I (Allegretto, g minor, 3/4 time, 74 bars): This piece is in ternary A-B-A form, and has a middle section in E-flat major in the manner of a Trio.

Bagatelle II (Andante con moto, C major, 2/4 time, 40 bars):
This piece is in binary form and features an exchange of registers between one voice in quavers and a second triplet voice in semiquavers.

Bagatelle III (a l' Allemande, D major, 3/8 time, 56 bars): A piece in an old-fashioned dance style.

Bagatelle IV (Andante cantabile, A major, 4/4 time, 16 bars): A piece in ternary form with a short developmental middle section.

Bagatelle V (Risoluto, c minor, 6/8 time, 26 bars):
This piece features repeated ascending and descending motion employing a motive in dotted rhythm characterized by ornamental appoggiaturas in the right hand above a left hand part playing an ostinato rhythm in dense harmonies.

Bagatelle VI (Andante, 3/4 time-Allegretto, 214 time-L'istesso tempo, 6/8 time-2/4 time, 66 bars): A cheerful improvisational passage based on a single rhythmic motive appears after a short introduction in the manner of a cadenza. The material of the improvisational passage reappears after a central developmental section in a different mood, and leads into a coda.

Bagatelle VII (Allegro ma non troppo, C major, 3/4 time, 27 bars): A piece in the manner of a Scherzando, brief but making considerable technical demands. The piece is characterized especially by the long trills. The latter half of the piece features a pedal point with trills in the low register.

Bagatelle VIII (Moderato cantabile, C major, 3/4 time, 20 bars): This piece offers a beautiful solution to the problems posed by four-part harmony, and is also highly interesting in terms of its treatment of polyphony.

Bagatelle IX (Vivace moderato ((Vivace assai ed un poco sentimentale)), a minor, 3/4 time, 20 bars): This piece is in A-B-A waltz form. The middle section consists of a brief four bars.

Bagatelle X (Allegramente, A major, 214 time, 12 bars): The right hand staccato figure in crotchets is accompanied half a beat later by the left hand in a simple bass line.

Bagatelle XI (Andante ma non troppo, B flat major, 4/4 time, 22 bars):
A beautiful piece in one-part form in which the consistently Cantabile theme is placed in the soprano voice.


6 Bagatellen, Op. 126

Beethoven began this work towards the end of 1823 after almost completing the last movement of the Ninth Symphony and completed it early the following spring. He set about selling the six pieces in a letter to the Leipzig publisher H. A. Probst dated February 25, 1824, and so it is likely that he had completed the work by this time.

These six pieces are incomparably more substantial in content than the eleven pieces of Op. 119. Each piece is composed in free form without falling into any established pattern, but it is especially interesting that the pieces should have been composed on a scale so much larger than that of the eleven earlier pieces.

Bagatelle I (Andante con moto, G major, 3/4 time, 47 bars): A theme with the indication that it should be sung out cheerfully flows along in a relaxed manner. The piece is in ternary form, including a bridge section in 2/4 time which leads into the middle section, featuring a cadenza-like passage, which then leads into a recapitulation of the theme in the bass line.

Bagatelle II (Allegro, g minor, 2/4 time, 89 bars): The piece begins with an exciting introductory section based on a motif similar to that used in the middle section of the previous piece. A caressing song appears in the soprano part in the middle section, and the third section is entered after a transition based on the opening motif.

Bagatelle III (Andante, E flat major, 3/8 time, 52 bars): A piece in binary form with a full sound and attractive lyricism. The theme is reintroduced in varied form below the trills played in the right hand during the latter half of the piece.

Bagatelle IV (Presto, b minor/B major, 2/2 time, 216 bars): This is in itself a large scale work which, even without repetition, consists of 216 bars. Formally it consists of a section A in b minor and a section B in B major which appear alternately twice during the course of the piece.

Bagatelle V (Quasi allegretto, G major, 6/8 time, 42 bars): This piece has a theme and development in the manner typical of a Barcarolle, and features a brief transposition to the key of C major during the middle section. The opening theme reappears in the latter half of the third section.

Bagatelle VI (Presto, E flat major, 212 time; Andante amabile e con moto, 3/8 time): The 6-bar Presto introduction reappears unchanged at the end of the coda, completely enclosing the main Andante. On the basis of its material, this main section may be considered as virtually symmetrical in structure, with a form A-B-A-C-B-A. This sense of symmetry is reinforced by the Presto sections at the beginning and.the end of the piece.

Commentary by Akira Hirano
Translated by Robin Thompson



Valery Afanassiev was born in Moscow in 1947. He graduated from the Moscow Conservatory in 1973 having studied under Jacob Zak and Emil Gilels. He won two international competitions – Bach, Leipzig in 1968 and Queen Elisabeth, Brussels in 1972, the latter resulting in a number of concert engagements. At the end of his tour in Belgium in 1974 he settled in Western Europe. He now lives in Versailles, France.

His repertoire includes, among other things, The 48 Preludes and Fugues from the Well-Tempered Klavier and the first volume of the Makrokosmos for amplified piano by George Crumb, whose execution requires singing and whistling. His own composition, "The Encore" features a number of actors and actresses, a tape recorder, a little girl and a little dog.

Valery Afanassiev is also a writer. His first novel, written in French ("Disparition"), was published by "Les Editions du Seuil" in Paris in 1983.


Dates recorded: April 10-11, 1986
Location: Hino Public Hall, Tokyo

Recording Director: Yoshiharu Kawaguchi
Recording Engineer: Norio Okada
Editing: Emiko Saito, Gerhard Betz
Special Thanks to: Bruel & Kjaer
Photo: Masami Hotta
Cover Drawing: Anthonie Waterlo “Paysage” (Sunset)


(p) 1988 Nippon Columbia Co. Ltd.
Manufactured by DENON / Nippon Columbia, Japan
Printed in Japan. Imprime au Japon. Made in Japan.

Total Time: 43:54

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